AFPL vs. GPL-like licenses?

Robert Feldt feldt at
Mon Jan 15 09:02:37 UTC 2001


I'm relatively new to open-source licensing issues and would like some
"expert" opinion/advice on which license to choose for a new project. I
have previously released some stuff under GPL without seriously giving
thought to what the different licenses really "mean" but for this larger
project I'd like to KNOW what I'm doing.

I understand that SW released under Aladdin Free Public License
(AFPL) (see for example is
not open-source or free software but I would like to know what is the
current view of AFPL it in the open-source community. What are the
drawbacks of using such a license? Will developers be put off and if so,

What are the implications of using AFPL versus using GPL?

>From reading the interview with Peter Deutsch
( I'm inclined to using AFPL
instead of the "standard" GPL. Can you convince me I should go with GPL?

Here's an excerpt from the interview I found especially interesting:

"STIG: I gather that some people, perhaps even many people, are
disappointed by your decision to stop using the GPL for all versions of
PETER: Then perhaps the act is not properly understood. I put a lot of
thought into what I saw as the flaw in the GNU license when formulating
the Aladdin license. The essence of the Aladdin license I can describe in
one sentence and it is very much about social contracts. 
Namely, if you are willing to play by what I think are the 1960s rules,
then the Aladdin license gives you exactly the same rights and benefits as
the GPL: it's free to use, it's free to copy, and you are free to modify
it. All of those things. 

In a nutshell, I see the 1960s rules, or the cooperative rules, this
way: "everybody contributes, so everybody benefits." 

Unlike the GPL I make a very solid distinction between distribution as
part of a commercial endeavor and distribution not as part of a commercial
endeavor. Distribution not as part of a commercial endeavor is covered by
essentially the GPL rules, while distribution in any commercial endeavor
is not permitted by the Aladdin free license. 

The philosophical weight of this is that if you want to play by
cooperative rules, you get the benefits of Aladdin's work within the
context of those rules. If you are not playing by the cooperative rules,
then it's going to cost you something to have the rights to get the value
from Aladdin software. 

Best regards,


Robert Feldt	tel: +46-(0)31 772 5217 fax: +46-(0)31 772 3663
feldt at or robert.feldt at
MSc, Ph.D. student
Chalmers Univ. of Technology, Dept. of Computer Engineering
Hörsalsvägen 11, SE-412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden

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